Friday, May 29, 2009
flip, atlanta, may 5
as low as my expectations were for good stuff eatery in D.C., they were that high for flip in atlanta. and my experience is that when i go somewhere with high hopes after pleasant surprised elsewhere, the place for which i had high hopes disappoints. it has happened several times, as weird as it sounds.
it did not happen at flip. without even loving everything, i was still blown away by it.
it is the second in the series of top chef contestant burger joints on the drive we took to D.C. and back. this one is run by richard blais, who was one of my favorite top chef contestants, and not just because he voted for me in mario's grilling contest. tho that didn't hurt.
one of the reasons i was happy to drive up to D.C. for the wedding is because i knew that that meant i could drive home through atlanta. that way we could see friends and knock off a couple of restaurants i had been wanting to try. flip was high on that list. and when i asked becky and jeremy if they would drive up to D.C. with us, i told them they would probably want to fly home because we were detouring through atlanta on the way home. to which jeremy's paraphrased response was, "WE GET TO GO TO ATLANTA?!?!?!?!?!" and much clapping.
flip is a burger place, but there is nothing typical about it. we found it out on the outskirts of downtown and walked in. the motif is very sleek, red-white-and-aluminum. there is a huge graphic element on the back wall that i wanted to study more, but i was hungry. they took us to one of the communal tables that runs down the center of the restaurant and i pulled back the aluminum bar stool. i yanked pretty hard, because it looked to be pretty heavy, and i nearly threw it at the ceiling. it weighed nothing. waiter said, "that happens all the time. they look heavy, don't they?" of course, then i wondered if it would collapse under my weight, either before or after eating there. but it held up fine.
flip has about 20 burgers. roughly half are beef-based and the other half are other stuff. sides are separate, and there are about a dozen, half are fried and half fresh.
here is what we had:
jeremy: the kobe burger. this is the only beef burger we ordered. you have a choice of american or japanese kobe. if you get the american, it is the second-most expensive thing on the menu. if you get the japanese, the price doubles. sweet. jeremy got the american, which, since it is ground, was totally the right call. there is a time to go for broke on japanese kobe, but a burger probably isn't it. the burger included a slice of seared foie gras and truffle oil, so it was definitely inspired by the daniel boulud burger. it was fantastic. for a side, jeremy got the vodka battered onion rings. richard says that the vodka makes them crispier. (watch a video here) they were spectacular. apparently, they make the batter to order. crazy.
becky: the knuckle sandwich. the name cracked me up. it is tempura lobster with green goddess dressing and pea shoot salad. this was the only thing at the table i didn't get to try, because becky said it wasn't really sliceable. liiiiiiikely story, 6. it did look like a construction challenge, and i wholly trust her when she says it was awesome. as her side, she got the tempura asparagus. which i just realized means she got tempura for her burger and her side. i thought it was amazing how crisp and fresh the asparagus tasted despite the fact that it was fried. really, really good ingredients. you can't MAKE it taste that good.
pam: the cinco de mayo burger. we went on may 5, and the special burger of the day was in honor of the holiday. it was a pork burger topped with roasted jalapeno mayo and tequila lime slaw. the slaw was really bright. really exploded in your mouth. you know, in a good way. her side was the pickled vegetables, which are not fried in any way. they came in individual canning jars. nice touch. i didn't inventory the vegetables, but there were definitely carrots in there, and i suspect beets. probably some sort of turnip or radish. they were good, but i expected them to pop a little more. they weren't very assertive.
me: the shrimp po-boyger. i am a sucker for decent wordplay. also for shrimp. i have had shrimp burgers before. the one at cafe ponte was amazing, but it really wasn't a burger. it was two big shrimp on a bun. this was a burger. the construction of which escapes me, but it was very tasty. sometimes when stuff is processed into an unnatural state, it doesn't taste like itself anymore. this was shrimp. and that little thing on top: that's a fried slice of lemon. if i lived in atlanta, i would go to flip twice a week. once to have this, and once to have something else until i worked my way through the menu. for a side, i had the sweet potato tots, which i was really looking forward to, because i am a HUGE fan of the tots. these were good, but probably a bit misnamed. they were fried mini-patties of mashed sweet potato. there was none of the shredded graininess that make tater tots what they are. they were good, i would eat them again, but they weren't really tots.
we also got an order of duck-fat fries to share, because they had duck fat fries. and we have no shame.
and now about the shakes. they are frozen with liquid nitrogen. the way this works is ... well, best i can tell ... it's just magic, ok? there is probably science involved, but there is stuff in a glass, then they pour some other stuff in it, but it doesn't look like anything but fog is going in, and next thing you know the stuff in the glass is frozen. if that isn't the dictionary definition of magic, i have no idea what is.
there were four shakes on the menu. there were four of us. who's good at math?
they split the shakes into half-servings, so pam and i got to split halves of each, and becky and jeremy shared halves of each. i didn't specifically LOVE any of the shakes, but they were all good. and there is nothing cooler than sipping a drink that is spewing fog.
here are the four:
nutella with burnt marshmallow (front): perfectly good. my love of nutella is no secret. i wish the flavor of that had been ratcheted up a bit. the marshmallows are nice, but they weren't a natural fit with the nutella. i mean, i'm picking at nits, here. i finished it.
spicy chocolate mole (back left): same issue as with the nutella. i liked the idea, i just wish the flavor had been a little more aggressive. chocolatey-er. spicier. again, its not like i left any.
krispy kreme (back right): this is the one that everyone talks about, and while it wasn't exactly what i had envisioned, it was my favorite. no small feat when there is nutella in the contest. i expected something that was a little more about a distilled essence of krispy kreme taking the form of a milkshake. what it seemed more like was a really good vanilla shake with donut bits blended in. i'll say it again: there is NOTHING wrong with that. and i don't know how to do the thing i had been expecting, so i'm not coming at it all high and mighty. and in the end, it was gone. so there is the bottom line.
we had those three floating around the table as we ate. afterward, there is no dessert menu, but becky, jeremy and i looked at each other. we all knew there was a shake we hadn't had yet. pam was out at this point, but we decided that if there is a foie gras milkshake (left) on a menu, it would be irresponsible to leave without having it. where else are you going to get a goose liver milkshake? it was based on vanilla, and flavored with foie, and i think he said amaretto. the foie really wasn't a flavor element, or really even textural. it was more of a mouth-feel thing. it was definitely detectable, and tasty. but having had it once, i don't really need another one.
come to think of it, when i saw richard at the top chef event in ybor, he made sweet ice tea shakes, and i might have liked that better than any of the four we had at the restaurant. interesting.
i'm so going back. just, when? actually, i know he is working on putting them in other cities, and i have heard that tampa is on the list. that is a good list for tampa to be on.